In Sew For Victory


If you’re still undecided about what fabric to use for your Sew For Victory project, here’s a few photos to help inspire you. The clothing styles, as well as fiber contents, did change quite drastically throughout the 40s (especially when you look at pre and post WWII differences) but the fabric colors and prints stayed pretty constant throughout the decade. Some people are pleasantly surprised to see such bright colors and wild prints!


Rayon certainly dominated the fabric industry then, but natural fibers like cottons, linens, and wools were also popular despite rationing. If you enjoy sewing with knits, rayon jersey is definitely an appropriate option! One fabric you won’t find available for consumer use in the 40s is polyester. While the research and production of synthetic fibers was important for the war effort, I’ve yet to see polyester clothing or fabric advertised in any of my 1940s catalogs. The polyester as we know it today wasn’t truly popularized until the 1960s.


If you’re feeling more adventurous and want a customized fabric for your project, consider the natural options at Organic Cotton Plus! RIT dye was all the rage in the 40s, especially with the Make Do And Mend mentality alive and well. “Upcycling” your clothing wasn’t a trendy thing to do then, it was a necessity. Give an old bed sheet new life, or add a custom color to your project like I did with my 1940s inspired Archer shirt. It’s a lot of fun and solid colors make excellent wardrobe staples.




If you’re still on the hunt for that perfect print or textured fabric, checkout Hawthorne Threads. I love this beautiful Rayon print, as well as all the Chambray, Seersucker, and linen blends (this yellow floral one is SO pretty)! Oh, and I can’t forget my favorite quilting cotton designer, Denyse Schmidt, who has a 40s influence in almost every collection she’s ever created (especially Florence! She specifically mentions 1940s comedy heroines as her influence for this collection). Good stuff.


p.s. This is the last weekend to use your Sew For Victory coupon codes for 20-30% off your sewing patterns, so don’t miss out! Judy at Vintage4me2 is having a 40% off sale until the 29th so you can get up to 70% off your pattern through her right now! Now that’s a steal.

I love reading everyone’s introductions and seeing the inspiration photos in the Flickr group! Keep it up!

What fabric are you using for your project?


  • This was very interesting. I wrote my honours thesis on the effects of WWII on women’s fashion, but I didn’t focus a lot on prints so that was very informative!

  • Lovely pictures of the vintage garments, very inspiring – even if using up to date fabrics. Must check in my stash to see if I have anything suitable.

  • I’m late to the game, so I hope I can get this done on time, but I’m ordering an indigo chambray with small dots…but I also can’t stay away from bidding on ebay for some original 40s rayon, which I will try if I win! Thanks for this project and the inspiration.

  • Oh, thank you so much for this post and all the wonderful vintage images. I don’t know why but the fashions of the 40’s appeal to me the most of any decade. I look at the pictures and I don’t feel like I’m looking at “vintage” fashions; I just feel like this is what women’s fashions are supposed to look like. Strange, I know, because I’m not THAT old, haha.

  • My Gosh, what an amazing fabric prints! I love them so much 🙂

  • I nearly shed a tear at all of the amazing 40s florals. Gah. I WANT THEM ALL. :/

  • I used to have sample books from the 50’s and 60’s, the kind they used to order fabrics for design lines and later on, fabric stores. I was surprised at the number and variety of doubleknit fabrics that were represented from as early as 1956. I now wish I had taken them with me when I left, I’m sure they ended up in a dumpster.
    Is the flickr group the same this year as it was last year? In other words we don’t need to sign up again, correct? Thanks : )

  • My pattern specifically says to use a solid fabric for my view, so I will look for one that I like. However, a gorgeous white cotton with a purple windowpane plaid just caught my eye on Hawthorne Threads…I may look into using polka dots as well.

  • I’m eager to get started on my Claire McCardell dress out of lightweight cotton, a fabric she used a lot during the 40s. For those who like knits, wool jersey was also very big during that period, and McCardell even designed a wool jersey wedding dress for the wartime bride getting married in a cold chapel. Folkwear patterns released that dress pattern as their “museum dress” or “Cloisters dress” and you can find it sometimes it on Ebay.

  • josiemary

    My pattern should arrive today!! I found it on your blog 🙂 Then the fabric hunt will start. This will be my first sewing project so wish me luck!

  • These are all so appealing pretty and fun! There isn’t a single fabric here I wouldn’t wear, especially in dress or skirt form.

    Have a beautiful weekend, dear Rochelle!
    ♥ Jessica

  • After checking out the fabrics here I feel so much better, I have chosen a black linen and a small houndstooth patterned cotton!

  • Pat

    I will be using blue striped cotton. I don’t dare argue with Simplicity. It actually states to use stripe fabric for View 2. This is the first time I’ve sewn with a vintage pattern. They assume that you have some sewing knowledge under your belt. Thankfully, I do.

  • Goodness gracious, no wonder rayon was so popular – 68c per yard versus 6.95/y for silk!
    I think cotton and wool will be my choices, apparently they were particularly popular here in New Zealand

  • These are so interesting, thank you for sharing. I love those rayon jersey prints in the top photo, and I’m intrigued by the pattern listings, as they offer examples of how much fabric is needed for a given size. I didn’t know fabric came in those widths back then. I always assumed the widths we have today (44, 45, etc.) had been the standard forever.

  • I was hoping to use the chambray in my stash for a jumper dress from a vintage mail order pattern, but I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate (even though it’s listed in the suggested fabrics). Now I know that it’s okay, I can’t wait to make it! I’m hoping it will be the versatile summer basic I’m imagining it to be! 🙂